October/November 2002

Public Literature, Private Poetry: An Interview with Jason Shinder

Sara Anne Johnson

Jason Shinder grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and Merrick, Long Island, and earned a BA degree from Skidmore College and an MA from University of California at Davis. In 1981, he founded the YMCA Writer's Voice in New York City, the flagship center of the first and now largest network of independent literary arts centers in the country. Three years later, in 1984, Shinder published Divided Light: Father and Son Poems, the first of a pioneering series of anthologies dedicated to the family that includes: First Light: Mother and Son Poems (1987), More Light: Father and Daughter Poems (1990), Eternal Light: Grandparent Poems (1992). Every Room We Ever Slept In, his first book of poems, was published in 1994 and was a New York Public Library Noted Book. Since then he has continued his work as an innovative anthologist, editor, and poet, as well as national literary arts leader and teacher, publishing: Lights, Camera, Poetry, the first anthology of American movie poems (1996), Best American Movie Writing, the first annual series of writing about the movies of which he is the founding series editor with guest editors Peter Bogdanovich, John Landis, and others (1998), The First Book Market, a first of its kind bi-annual manual dedicated to the writing and publishing of first books (1998, 2000), Tales From The Couch: Writers on Therapy, the first collection of original essays by writers on the nature and impact of their therapy (2000). Birthday Poems: A Celebration, the first collection of American poets about this special occasion and on the passing of time (2001). Jason teaches in the graduate writing programs at New School University and at Bennington College.


Fact, Dream, and Labor: Robert Frost and the New New England Attitude

Sydney Lea

I have a beloved neighbor somewhat south of here, a woman of 80 who lives in the house where she was born. Ruthie had to end her schooling in the eighth grade and go to work; in my family's company, she visited Boston for the only time in her life, and she has never seen another city. She is, in short, a provincial in the purely descriptive sense of that term. By this I do not present her as an unfortunate, even if many, Susan Sontag, say, might do so, for in fact Ruthie is wise in so many important human ways that condescension toward her would be the worst kind of arrogance.


Cheer Up, Why Don't You?

Debra Spark
In the wake of last September's tragedy-9/11, the emergency already built in-several news venues spoke of the need for consolation in art. and elsewhere.

A Conversation with Dorothy Allison

Renée Olander

Dorothy Allison's books include two novels, Bastard Out of Carolina, a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award, Cavedweller (Dutton 1998), a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (Dutton 1995), a meditation on memoir and storytelling. Her poetry and essays have been published by Firebrand Books; a new, expanded edition of Trash, a collection of stories, will appear from Dutton Plume in October. Allison's first novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, was made into a highly acclaimed film directed by Angelica Huston. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure was translated into a short documentary that took prizes at the Aspen and Toronto film festivals, and was an Emmy-nominated feature on PBS's POV. A theater performance of Cavedweller will open in New York next spring.


A Look Back at The AWP Newsletter, The AWP Chronicle, The Writer's Chronicle

AWP Staff

The novelist is lucky to find characters whose names are unalterably their own, whose names cannot be changed even if their author wills it. Such names may appear spectrally, as Wharton's did; or be elusive at first, like Beattie's. They may be downright uncooperative, like Didion's. But once the author has their real names, such characters stand and deliver. They can be cool or outrageous, humorous or serious, or all of the above. They can be ordered out of the room only to come right back in, directly from life itself, like Mr. Throckmorton. Peter Gay, in an essay quoted by Michiko Kakutani, notes that Freud changed his name for "Sigismund" to "Sigmund." Mr. Gay believes that "the bestowal of a name is an exercise of power." But the reverse also holds true: names bestow their own power. Perhaps Freud could not do his life's work until his real name found him.


Remembering Eudora Welty

Richard Baush

One evening not so long ago, I was present at a gathering in the Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. It was late October, and there was a crispness in the air, the trees lining the avenues were all blazing with color. Though the occasion was decidedly secular rather than religious, it was certainly spiritual: Miss Eudora Welty, then 86 years old, was going to read one of her stories.